There is a very special place on the windward side of Hawai'i - the Puna coast. I won't be specific about the location but those that live here know where it is and I'm sure you won't give it away either! It's where I go to watch humpback whales and just get away from everything when I need to. It's quiet, on the whole mostly devoid of tourists, stunningly beautiful, in fact I think the most beautiful place on the island, and only a thirty-minute drive from home. I went there today.
The coastline road has been redirected recently and one or two of my favourite spots are a little harder to get to now, but it's still the best place on the planet to escape everyday life. If I could play slack-key guitar you'd find me out there for every sunset - when I'm not working at the summit of course!
Although the road that runs along the coastline has undergone a few changes in the last year or two, one part is unchanged and has always caught my attention; I like to call it the "enchanted forest". It's hard to photograph well, not least because I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing when it comes to photography, but I had a go anyway:
On the way back from the forest I stopped to watch the surfers at Isaac Hale Beach Park but they were too far away, even this great little camera couldn't make up for the distance, so I took a picture of the ocean and a green-looking plant instead. I didn't want to go away empty-handed.
Between the Puna coast and home is Lava Tree State Park. I'm always amazed that there are so few visitors there although the reputation it has for cars being broken into may play a part in that. No matter, it's beautiful, and offers something I don't think you can see in other places around the world - lavafied trees.
I may have this wrong, but what I believe happened is that this area was subject to quick flowing lava flows a few hundred years ago. The molten lava flooded the area, but then fissures opened up in the ground and the lava drained away very rapidly, fissures like this:
The lava that contacted the ohia trees was cooled by the trees' moisture and didn't drain away quite so quickly and what remained were lavafied tree stumps like this:
I suspect one of my few readers is going to have a field day with that last picture! In any case, it's a place a few more people should visit - it's a well-kept jungle and there aren't too many places in the world like that.